Hortculturists classify fruits into three groups, based on temperature requirements for growth: (1) temperate fruits, (2) subtropical fruits, and (3) tropical fruits.
Temperate Fruits must have an annual cold season to grow properly. They are raised chiefly in the Temparate Zones, the regions between the tropics and the polar areas. Most temperate fruits come from Europe and North America, but Asia and Austrailia also have major producing areas. The principal temperate fruits are apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums. In addition, most small fruits, which grow on plants smaller than trees, are raised mainly in the Temperate Zones. They include blueberries, cranberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries.
Subtropical Fruits require warm or mild temperatures throughout the year but can survive an occasional light frost. They are grown chiefly in subtropical regions. The most widely grown subtropical fruits are the citrus group, which includes grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges. Oranges, the leading citrus crop, are grown throughout the subtropics, from southern Japan to southern Europe. In the United States, Florida produces by far the most oranges. Citrus crops are also raised on some farms in the tropics, but the somewhat cooler climate of the subtropics produces better-tasting and more attractive fruit. Other subtropical fruits include dates, figs, olives, pomegranates, and certain types of avocados.
Tropical Fruits are raised mainly in the tropics and cannot stand even light frost. Bananas and pineapples, the best-known tropical fruits, are grown throughout the tropics, and much of each crop is exported. The majority of other tropical fruits are consumed locally for the most part. They include acerolas, cherimoyas, lichis, mangoes, mongosteens, and papayas.
How Fruit Grows
Almost all species of fruits grow on plants that have a woody stem. Such plants are trees, bushes, or woody vines. Fruits that grow on trees include apples, cherries, lemons, limes, oranges, and peaches. Most small fruits grow on bushes, but grapes come from woody vines. Bananas and strawberries grow on plants that have a soft, rather than woody, stem.
Preferred Methods of Growth
Fruit crops, unlike most other crops, are not grown from seeds. Plants grown from seeds may vary in many ways from generation to generation. But growers strive to produce plants that will bear fruits of uniform type, appearance, and quality. Such fruits bring the highest prices when marketed. Fruit plants produce fruits of uniform quality if grown vegetatively- that is, from certain parts of desirable plants, such as stems, buds, and roots. The part that is grown develops new tissues and new parts identical to those of the parent plant.
Fruit plants are produced vegetatively in three main ways: (1) by grafting, (2) from cuttings, (3) from specialized plant structures. Most fruit trees are produced by grafting. In this process, a bud or piece of stem from one tree is joined to a rootstalk from another. The resulting tree will have most of the same characteristics as the tree from which the bud or stem was taken. However, the rootstalk may determine such characteristics as the size and productivity of the new tree.
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